Today, for The Compressed Interview, Rodrigo Ferzuli shares with us his experience in the audio industry. Rodrigo is an associate sound designer in Amber Mexico, as well as a co-founder & community group admin of Game Audio Latam.
This is what we talked about:
Threshold: Getting Started
J: How did you get started in audio? What was your first job and how did you get it?
R: Long story short, I wanted to be a DJ as a teenager. I started out buying my first DJ controller and software, going to friend’s parties, and doing mashups of our favorite songs. After that, I wanted to create and produce the music I loved mixing as a DJ, mostly electronic music, so I started learning by myself how to use a DAW and some virtual synths like Sylenth 1 or Serum. To be honest, I didn´t quite liked how my music productions ended sounding, I blame my lack of music theory knowledge of that time, but thankfully, just before I was thinking of completely abandoning my audio career, I learned about sound design and the power of being able to manipulate sound in favor of telling a story through it.
Everything happened in a natural way after that, I continued working with audio during high school (non-professionally), just by helping my classmates with their Theater and Computer Science homework’s that required anything audio related, mostly voice recording and sound editing. One cool experience that helped me discover the power of storytelling through sound, was when each year in high school, an acting competition was held, which consisted of students acting a story but without making any noise nor produce any sound on stage, everything had to come out from an edited audio track. Right there, in those years, I learned how to record, edit, and mix the most common audio groups (Voices, Sound Effects, Ambiences and Music).
When I was about to finish High School, I just couldn´t think of any other career to dedicate my life to, I knew I had to study something related to audio that would help me improve my skills and learn more about it, so I studied Audio Engineering. Then, the jump from Linear Audio to Interactive Audio and the possibilities that this one brought to the table was something that blew my mind, Game Audio was the answer, so I decided to focus my studies on that path.
Attack: Things to discuss
J: What is your most unexpected experience in the industry?
R: Getting my first Internship (full time job after that), and game audio project ever in a Mexican Game Development studio and get to work on a game with the Tetris IP. I couldn´t believe it, I felt (and still feel) like the luckiest guy in the world. At first, I wasn´t sure if I was the right guy to do the job, it was a huge duty that I thought I couldn´t achieve since I was still studying my bachelor’s degree, writing my final thesis, and other 21 years old boy responsibilities. But I took courage and started proposing ideas for the game rhythmic mechanics and interactivity of the game music, sound effects, etc. The rest is history, you can find the game on Apple Arcade, is called Tetris Beat.
Release: Talking about the good stuff
J: What do you think is the best part of working in this industry?
R: Certainly, the Creativity of the people you work with, from your own team to the team leaders and product managers, all of them are incredibly talented and creative people. This industry is pure passion, you can feel it in the air, we are all very passionate about what we do and there is nothing greater than working on a product that you know will make people happy.
J: What would you say is the most important thing when creating and implementing sound?
R: I would strongly recommend testing and hearing your sounds in context with the game, including the interactive audio system already affecting the assets. For example, what I do is create the events the game will need for sure and implement them in the game code first. You can start with a placeholder as the sound to trigger but working this way will help you understand the needs of the sound to design and how and when the player is going to hear it. That said, and after you have the game audio basic structure, start designing your assets, make many of them for each action, always have assets that sound different from each other, even that when they trigger, they communicate different feelings to you, these for proposal and test purposes. Then after you (and possibly the team) select the best ones, proceed to polish, and make the final touches to your sounds, or as I would call it, add some extra sauce.
J: What are the biggest life lessons learned in your personal and professional career?
R: Always take the opportunities that life gives you. You never know how well things can end if you don’t try it yourself. Sometimes, at the end it may not be what you expected, but please be happy that at least you tried.
Oh, and be grateful with 100% of the things in your life, whatever is a good thing or a bad thing, it´s always the learning process that makes you a better person. Family, friends, co-workers, people in general are going to notice your attitude towards these things.